The UK is set to to be in coronavirus lockdown until June, according to the government’s leading epidemiology adviser.
Professor Neil Ferguson said it was “optimistic” that the UK’s lockdown measures would end by May, and that early June was more likely.
It comes as Boris Johnson is set to write to every household in the UK, telling people the coronavirus outbreak would ” get worse before it gets better”.
Ferguson told the Sunday Times: “We’re going to have to keep these measures in place, in my view, for a significant period of time — probably until the end of May, maybe even early June.
“May is optimistic.”
Johnson placed the country in effective lockdown last week for an initial period of three weeks.
He said the restrictions would be reviewed after this initial period.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told the BBC today that he “can’t make an accurate prediction” of how long the lockdown would last, but it would likely be a “significant period”.
“Everyone is making a sacrifice and I appreciate the scale of that sacrifice,” he said.
“But the reason all of us are making these sacrifices is because all of us will have people whom we love who are at risk from this virus.
“I can’t make an accurate prediction, but everyone does have to prepare for a significant period when these measures are still in place.”
The UK’s death toll from Covid-19 has now surpassed 1,000, after the biggest daily increase in deaths occurred yesterday.
Expert predictions of when the peak of the virus will begin has varied, with some saying as early as mid-April.
The government is working to increase the amount of resources the NHS has at its disposal to cope when the peak of the outbreak hits.
The government has begun to order ventilators from companies such as Dyson, which are producing the equipment to help the nation’s fight against Covid-19.
In the Prime Minister’s letter to households across the UK, he wrote: “It’s important for me to level with you — we know things will get worse before they get better.
“But we are making the right preparations, and the more we all follow the rules, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal.
“If too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to cope. This will cost lives. That is why we are giving one simple instruction — you must stay at home.”